Everyone knows that working out creates both immediate and long-term improvements in health, vitality, and even life expectancy. But it’s one thing to know, and it’s another to pull together the muster and actually do it.
How many times have you started a new workout plan with the best intentions only to fail? How many times have you rushed into action with all the power and inspiration of an ancient Greek athlete, breezing through the first couple workouts like it was nothing, only to lose your enthusiasm just as fast? How many times have you embraced that momentum, suddenly feeling more alive than you have in years – maybe even bearing that pain for the first few days with pride – only to get to a point weeks or months later where you just threw in the cards?
Or maybe something more pressing, like a work obligation or even an injury, interrupted your pattern, and you never get back on course…
Breaking the Predictable Pattern of Failure
So how do you find the motivation to work out? If you’re like most well-intentioned people on this planet, this predictable sequence of events has happened not only once but many times over. And no matter how much willpower you conjure up to return with a vengeance, you just can’t make the habit of working out stick.
So how do you not only create the motivation to work out but make that new motivation stick for the long-run? To make it into far more than a fad – a lifetime endeavor?
I want to introduce you to a method of workout motivation that’s so simple it’s nearly foolproof. You may even slap yourself in the noggin for not having thought about it yourself. But before we get into that, let’s have a look at the hidden power of physical fitness in modern day life – because deciding right now that fitness will be a part of your life forever becomes much easier when you realize the powerful leverage it brings to your reality.
Nature’s Magic is Based on Habits
The power of habits is one of the major keys to success in life.
Successful people don’t become that way because they are special or somehow “gifted.” Sure, some direct energy into areas where they show a bit of potential, but there are countless Mozarts, Einsteins, Michael Jordans, and Stephen Kings in the world who never become anything because they never used the power of habits to orchestrate their life.
Successful people become that way because they ingrain in themselves habits that lead to success.
Habits always win. They take time to develop, but once they are there, you don’t have to think about them. For instance, you don’t have to think about how to tie your shoes every morning. Or how to brush your teeth. Are there any other tasks you’ve performed in your life that seemed complicated at first and then became like a second nature to you? I’d be willing to bet the answer is yes.
Your body, your brain, and your subconscious are built to take tasks and make them habitual. And if you learn to create the right habits and set them in motion – the type of habits that lead to success, the end result is a successful life. It almost becomes inevitable.
Now imagine if you chose the most life-transforming habits and made those automated routines in your life.
If you think about it, this power of organizing and automating life not only applies to humans but all of nature. The seasons come and go in the same exact order every time, and it’s this natural law that makes it possible for plants to work their magic each and every year. The sun rises and sets at roughly the same time each day, and the days begin to shorten at the same time every year. A certain type of seed always sprouts the same type of tree – it doesn’t decide one day to sprout a tomato plant.
All of nature exists and functions via the power of habits, and if these powers were thrown off kilter even just a bit, life as we know it would cease to exist.
Thus it becomes clear that you gain far more power in your life not by focusing on losing that thirty pounds you’ve been carrying around for too long or getting that six pack you’ve always wanted, but rather by focusing mainly on the building of a habit, all else be damned.
Physical Fitness: A Keystone Habit
Perhaps you’ve heard of the concept of a keystone habit before. Essentially, there are certain habits that, once developed in your life, not only affect one part of your life but become the foundation of many other good habits, as if our habits are a web. In essence, these keystone habits have the potential of creating a snowball effect that can radically transform your experience on Earth.
And fitness is one of the most obvious keystone habits out there.
Let’s break it down. You already know that fitness will make you stronger, give you more energy, help fight disease, and make you a more emotionally-satisfied person. The instant health benefits of working out on a regular basis alone are life-transforming and reason enough to make working out a priority.
But beyond that are the less obvious effects that stem from physical fitness. As an example, have you ever noticed that when you start working out you start eating better without effort – even if it wasn’t part of your immediate plan? Working out also often makes you more productive and gives you extra energy, which can lead to more success at work and thus better control over your finances, which can affect every area of your life.
We could go on and on all day about little things like this that all stem from the basic decision to get a minimal dose of physical exertion everyday. This is the very definition of a keystone habit and why getting control over the motivation to exercise can be a paramount decision that radically transforms your life starting tomorrow.
Isn’t that insane? That picking up just one new habit can have so much of an effect?
Herein we find our method.
How a Simple 5-Minute Commitment Can Change Your Life Forever
Have you ever heard the saying that “showing up is half the battle?” Well, this was actually derived from a quote by the famous Woody Allen, but the true sentiment was a bit different than the one we know. He actually said “Showing up is eighty percent of life,” and I point out this distinction because the latter of the two is actually far more accurate, especially when it comes to working out.
The key to developing a habit of working out each and every day for the very rest of your life is to commit to nothing more than showing up. Even if that means just showing up at the gym everyday and changing into your workout clothes, putting your regular clothes back on, and heading back home.
Why is this so powerful?
Because most people will end up going through the workout 80%, or even 95%, of the time. Showing up is the most important part. And once you’re there, you’ve already defeated the challenge of pulling yourself out of bed and dragging yourself across town to the gym. You’re already on-site, and it’s just human nature to shrug and decide to lift some weights or do a bit of cardio.
The Real Trick to Making it Work
The trick, however, is to minimize the pressure as much as possible. Don’t force yourself to work out if you don’t feel it, or this strategy won’t work the way it’s supposed to. You need to create a low-pressure situation. So if you show up and you just don’t have the energy and do nothing more than walk out and take a drink out of the fountain or do one rep or hit the hot tub in the locker room, no biggie. Let yourself off the hook and leave.
Once again, most people will end up going through with the workout 80% to 95% of the time.
Can you see how genius that is?
Meanwhile you’re establishing a habit of going to the gym. Each and every day you show up, and nearly each and every day you actually work out because you’re already there. And over time this habit becomes a natural part of your life that never wavers. You’ve set the forces of habit in motion, establishing the most important tool in workout motivation…
Over time, whether you set your willpower on doing so or not, you will see the results in your waistline and eventually spilling over into other areas of your life.
Do You Need to Have a Gym Membership to Do This?
Absolutely not. You can use this showing up method in any type of setting and with any type of physical exercise. If you don’t have a gym membership, just set aside a corner of your home as a workout station, get up every morning at the same time, change your clothes, and go to that corner.
Don’t feel like breaking a sweat this morning? Who cares? Go back to bed.
Trying to establish a morning run? Commit to walking to the end of the block – or even just the end of your driveway. Or commit to nothing more than getting up and putting the running shoes on.
Want to start swimming every morning? Establish the habit of just getting up and getting in the pool (or whatever body of water) everyday, and if you don’t feel like laps it’ll be nothing more than a refreshing dunk that starts off your day.
Just whatever you do, make sure you do it day in and day out without fail.
Finding Other Ways to Leverage the Showing Up Strategy
By the way, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that you could apply this ingenious approach to other areas of your life. If you want to write a book, commit to writing a page a day or even just sitting down in front of your computer. If starting a side business, set the wheels in motion with an hour of planning or working on your project.
Of course, if you want to make the most of it, aim to identify the keystone habits that would transform your life in other ways besides their immediate benefits. These are the ones you want to spend the most time putting into action.
Get Started Today!
Don’t let this article be a mere mental exercise and nothing more. Want to know how to get motivated to work out? Put this concept to use in your life now. Decide now that you’re going to start “showing up” today. Pick a time that you’ll make consistent and decide exactly what showing up will mean. Set two alarm clocks if you have to.
Do you have the willpower just to show up to the gym or change into running sneakers every morning or evening? I think you do; it is, after all, so very little to ask.
Now go prove me right and start changing your life today.